Slavery began in America in 1619 when the first enslaved Africans were brought to the colony of Jamestown, Virginia.
By the middle of the 1840s, the importation of human chattel from Africa had been outlawed and domestic slave trading had replaced international in supplying forced labor. New Orleans, a shipping port and Richmond, a central city on the east coast, became the hubs for the transfer, sale and exchange of enslaved peoples from the various locations throughout the United States.
The site of Lumpkin’s Slave Jail, where countless men, women, and children were imprisoned, represents the many holding pens, auction houses and related sites that developed to support the thriving economy of the slave trade.
In 2006, the Richmond Slave Trail Commission (RSTC) commissioned an archaeological assessment, and subsequently, archaeological excavation (2008) by The James River Institute for Archaeology to search for any remnants of the Lumpkin’s Slave Jail Site. Unlike the accidental uncovering of the African burial ground in downtown New York City, which was the result of a federal building construction project, the RSTC knew of the existence of the jail from historical documents. That search yielded the remarkably intact remains of the Lumpkin’s Slave Jail complex, as well as over 16,000 artifacts.